After a while you get to a point of critical mass (which we are getting to in many areas...) and then the idea becomes that you "need' the degree.
But the question was "do you need a college education"? Indeed you do, my case in your point <bg>. To make matters worse, now I need a Masters degree. I don't have one,and really don't want one, but that's what my potential employers are looking for or my resume goes in the round file under "Not Qualified" - even though I certainly am, goddamnit!. <deep breath>
How many people do you work with that either don't have degrees or have degrees in some other field than what they are working in?
Admittedly, I may work in a field that is an exception to the general rule. I don't think it's unfair to say that 90% of the people I work with have at least a Bachelors Degree. I do some work in the field I have my degree in, but it is fair to say that most people probably do not.
But when those people leave their positions the HR team cranks out nother "Help Wanted" ad and they'll list that specific degree in there...
I never said HR was smart, I just said they require a degree. Any present HR personnel excluded, of course.
I don't think you are unqualified if you don't have a degree, but I know that most people looking at candidates will pass over a 'less-educated' person for someone with a piece of paper. That being said, I also think there will again come a time where merit will count over degree level, but that playing field will cut out the majority of people with no degree at all.